In this sermon from 1 Corinthians 3: 1–18, we explore Paul’s admonition to the church in Corinth to “be the church.” Paul’s intention is to push back against growing disunity and immaturity taking place within the congregation.


A church is a people, not a building, but there are good churches and bad churches. Many of us don’t exactly know why a church is a good church or bad church. We lack the language to identify what the intangible quality is that we intuitively know is off.


In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he is writing to a church that he planted, but whose leaders started to think that they’ve outgrown the Gospel foundation Paul laid. The Corinthian leaders were convinced that they had found a higher wisdom, a more spiritual & practical way to live. And yet, because they were abandoning the Gospel, they were abandoning the only thing that can hold a bunch of sinners together: their unity.


The church at Corinth was beginning to look like the world outside the church.

And if the inside of the church looks, thinks, acts like the world outside, the church is going to develop the same soul crushing problems as the outside world.


If the church stops being the church, it becomes irrelevant.


What does Paul suggest that a church need to stay true to the Gospel and remain relevant?


1) Personal Maturity: The only way we can handle the “good stuff.”


Personal maturity is important to be able to enjoy the gift of the church. But Paul wants the Corinthian church that their maturity isn’t developing because they are divided.


2) United by Humility: The only way we can go from “me” to “we.”


Humility is critical to the unity of the church if we are ever going to go from “me” to “we.” If the members of the church aren’t united in humility, the church won’t hold together.


3) Corporate Mission to Be the Temple: The only way we can truly “be the church.”      


If we are to properly build a church, Paul is telling us that we must recognize we have a shared mission. All of us together, when we are assembled, are meant to be God’s temple!


We have a shared mission to BE THE CHURCH, to be the place where God’s love is felt more powerfully, where God’s truth is proclaimed, where broken people can come and find true rest, where people tossed about by the storms of this world can find true peace, purpose, and joy.


If we are holding on to reasons to divide from one another, we don’t stand a chance at accomplishing this mission. We must be reconciled to one another.


Takeaway: If the church stops being the church, it becomes irrelevant. 


1 Corinthians 3:1–18